Almost two year’s ago we were preparing a couple of custom built organs for shipment to customers 12000 miles away in New Zealand. Specialist crates were made for the two organs travelling. These crates with specialist foam packing were almost works of art in themselves (see image below).
The larger of the instruments were going to Wellington Cathedral and was the largest 4 manual organ we had built at the time and weighed in at 750Kg.
(Read about the installation at Wellington Cathedral and see the organ specification.)
The second organ was heading to a former Organist and Master of the Music at Nelson Cathedral who had designed the instrument to his own special requirement.
This custom built organ in Oak has keyboards of Cherry Wood with Nut sharps and very traditional ’English Style’ drawknobs by Kimber Allen with their unique ‘ferrule’ moulding set tight up against the jambs. This ‘smaller’ organ weighs in at almost 500Kg.
Installation of the Wellington Cathedral organ
The organ at Wellington Cathedral was installed in October 2018 over a period of a week. To say it went without a hitch would be an exaggeration but it did most certainly go well and was fully completed to our client’s total satisfaction. This involved great teamwork while we were on site supported by colleagues staying behind in both the UK and Italy and working 12 hours out of time phase with us.
The audio system was the largest we have so far done with 28 independent audio channels driving 42 speaker cabinets. 6 channels for the great department were doubled up to drive 12 speakers to ensure that the ‘core’ of the instrument had enough power.
We spent about 5 days voicing the instrument. The acoustic of Wellington Cathedral is very large, well over 6 seconds and this is not an easy environment in which to voice.
During the course of the week spent voicing approximately 20 new voice models were made and delivered taking the instrument as close as possible to the sound that the client had in mind. A process that I think even surprised them in regard to just what our technology could do for them.
We stayed for the service later in October that saw the instrument dedicated and blessed.
Read the full story about the Wellington Cathedral organ installation and the challenges we faced.
Installing our first Home Instrument in New Zealand
While our main crew were busy with the Cathedral installation two went to the airport and took a plane for the short flight to Nelson. There they were met by our customer and taken the 20 or so minute drive to his home set high above the inlet to the east of Nelson.
Here they rendezvoused with a local carrier whose vehicle struggled to make the steep incline up to our customer’s house, which has the most magnificent views over the large expanse of water below.
Only two days work was required to unbox the instrument and move it into place with all associated speakers and wiring. Plus of course a detailed voicing session to ensure the very best acoustic result.
The instrument will play in our customers home through 6 external speaker cabinets and a sub bass. The mixture compositions have been a matter of particular discussion and created especially for this instrument.
You will therefore perhaps see a very personal stop list as defined by the customer.
This is what the customer had to say about the organ a little more than a year later…
A great testimonial to the quality of Regent Classic Organs
For over a year a Viscount Digital Organ has graced the central open-plan space of my home on the South Island of New Zealand. It made the journey across the world in company with a large four manual Viscount instrument destined for Wellington Cathedral, following the damage of their pipe organ in an earthquake. So far as I know my instrument, a custom made Regent Classic is the first and, at present, only Viscount Digital Organ in a private residence in New Zealand.
The individually designed organ is a three manual and pedal instrument of 52 stops with the usual couplers and a fairly traditional specification. There are 6 speakers around the room and an additional bass woofer.
The console and fully-adjustable, sturdy organ bench have been beautifully crafted and are a delight to behold – an attractive item of furniture in their own right. As significant, if not more so, I can truly say that in a lifetime as a Church and Cathedral musician, I have never played at a more comfortable console.
This of course is a great inspiration for performance preparation as well as the learning of new repertoire, which has been a particular privilege during the lockdown period of New Zealand as well as the envy of some colleagues! In particular the UHT keys are a joy and delight, and in general all features of the console feel to be in the right place for comfort, access and security.
The team of two were with me for three days receiving and setting up the speakers and console. They gave great care and respect to my home, laying speaker cables to be thoroughly neat and out of sight. Then voicing was undertaken, which these many months later, sounds excellent in the central space of my home. To take just one aspect of the voicing – even with 16 reed stops, a pleasing and musical range of aural personalities has been achieved.
An amazing and unique touch relating to this installation, was the return of one technician some weeks later for just two nights from UK to NZ! This was in order to fully ensure the customer’s specification details and satisfaction.
I am very pleased to recommend Regent Classic Organs and their UK based team for any client considering a similar project.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Regent Classic Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.